Nintendo’s upcoming Pokémon Legends: Arceus is set in the distant past, at a point in time when the modern day Sinnoh Region was still known as the Hisui region, and people did not live in especially close harmony with wild Pokémon. Unlike some older Pokémon games where you play as a young trainer born into a world where bonding with Pokémon is quite common, in Arceus, you’re part of one of the earliest generations of researchers to thoroughly study the creatures in their natural habitats.
Keeping in with that idea about the new games, the Pokémon Company’s just released two versions (one blurry, and one clear) of a found-footage video teaser in which an unseen Pokémon researcher trudges through a snowy landscape. The video has a decided New Pokémon Snap vibe to it all throughout — recorded presumably on the Arceus Phone, a piece of incredibly anachronistic technology in the new game that is basically a smartphone thrown into a feudalized past by the Literal Creation God of Pokémon. But that anachronism aside, it’s more focused on the particulars of nature, as the researcher points out details about common monsters like Snorunt, and how beautiful the scenery is.
But the real point of the short and somewhat spooky clip is to introduce a pair of related Pokémon who, while gorgeous, appear to be quite dangerous. After stumbling into a snowy thicket of trees, the researcher catches a glimpse of a small white and red fox that immediately takes an interest in the stranger. Before the human can get a proper look at the creature, however, a massive roiling mass of shadows emerges from behind it and charges at the camera, seemingly to attack the unsuspecting human.
Though the human in the video might not have known what he was looking at, Pokémon fans will immediately identify the smaller fox and the larger bipedal creature that joins it at the end of the video as forms of Zorua and Zoroark, two Pokémon who were first introduced in Pokémon Black and Pokémon White, set in the Unova region. One of the more exciting things about Arceus aside from its new time period and focus on the Pokémon world’s history is the introduction of a growing number of Hisuian Pokémon, regional variants of monsters from other games. While regional variants have appeared in other Pokémon games like Sun/Moon and Sword/Shield, Arceus’ Hisuian Pokémon are somewhat more fascinating because of the implication of their having gone extinct over time. For example, Kantonian, Alolan, and Galarian forms of Meowth all exist in the world contemporaneously, where as the ancient Hisuian form of Growlithe appears to be a distant ancestor (who does not directly “evolve” in the traditional Pokémon sense) of modern-day Growlithe, which are native to the Kanto region.
Despite only popping briefly in the new video, there’s quite a bit to glean from Hisuian Zorua and Zoroark’s short appearances. Like their Unovan counterparts, Hisuian Zorua and Zoroak seem to prefer keeping to their own kind, and are a bit skittish around humans. Because Unovan Zorua and Zoroak are known for their ability to create convincing illusions, it stands to reason that the Hisuian variants have somewhat similar abilities, which may explain what the shadowy figure attacking the human in the video was. Unlike Unovan Zorua and Zoroark, which are pure Dark types, the new monsters have been confirmed by the Pokémon Company as Normal/Ghost dual types, and it’s going to be very interesting to see how all that typing is further reflected in the movesets they can learn. What’s also fascinating to consider about Hisuian Zorua and Zoroark, especially because of their new Ghost typing, is whether the attack in the new video was just a playful greeting, or if that was a legitimate instance of a Pokémon murdering a human in cold blood. It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve had to wonder!
Pokémon Legends: Arceus drops on January 28, 2022.